Government to review council youth work statutory guidance

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), and Office for Civil Society have set out plans to undertake a review of statutory guidance that requires local authorities in England to provide youth services as part of the Civil Society Strategy.

The strategy, Building a future that works for everyone, published today, states that a review of the guidance for councils to provide “appropriate local youth services” is needed as a result of significant changes to the way services for young people are delivered since it was last scrutinised in 2012.  The document states that the review will provide “greater clarity of the government’s expectations, including the value added by good youth work”.  The strategy also commits to developing the evidence base for what good youth work looks like, and the beneficial impact this can have on young people’s life outcomes.

The 2012 review, undertaken as part of the coalition government’s Positive for Youth policy, backed retention of this duty, but since then council spending on youth services has been reduced by more than £400m and hundreds of youth centres have been closed as a result of cuts in central government funding.

The new strategy states: “The government recognises the transformational impact that youth services and trained youth workers can have, especially for young people facing multiple barriers and disadvantage.”

The review of statutory guidance has been welcomed by the National Youth Agency (NYA).  NYA chief executive, Leigh Middleton, said:

“We are pleased to see youth work officially championed by the government and recognising the transformational impact of youth services.

“Young people deserve access to effective and widely available youth services. We know local councils want to invest more in youth service but have been forced to de-prioritise youth services in the face of budget cuts in recent years – we believe this government review will recognise this and hand down the stronger appropriate guidance to address it.”

Read the Civil Society Strategy: building a future that works for everyone for more information.

Disability inclusion: Why it’s about more than a ramp

Kay Morgan-Gurr who is a fantastic children’s evangelist, has written a brilliant article following on from the Archbishop of Canterbury hosting a cutting edge disability conference at Lambeth Palace on July 13th called ‘A Place to Belong‘:

The heart for change was alive and well, but for change to happen this heart also needs to be alive and well in those who were not at the conference. We need change where the rubber hits the road, and I’m worried that the outcomes of this will only reach the already convinced and not the people who really need to hear it. …

It’s often the case that many churches – though not all – think inclusion begins and ends with a ramp. Most will provide for those of us with wheels, but even then some do it badly. In their minds, they’ve already ticked the discrimination box.

Disability is diverse, in both the range of disabilities and the type of support needed. There may be practical inclusion adjustments in a church, but the attitude is poor. This is why many in the disability community use the term ‘belonging’. It’s much more than inclusion. To quote John Swinton, who was at the conference, ‘Belonging is being missed when you’re not there.’ Or in my own words, it’s being missed for who you are, not a sigh of relief because the disabled person hasn’t turned up.

Go read her full article here.

Council for Internet Safety in the UK

The government has announced plans to establish a new UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS), which will extend the scope of the current UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS).  It will be a new collaborative forum through which government, the tech community and the third sector work together to ensure the UK is the safest place in the world to be online.

Priority areas of focus for the council will include:

  • online harm experienced by children such as cyberbullying and sexual exploitation;
  • radicalisation and extremism;
  • violence against women and girls;
  • hate crime and hate speech;
  • and forms of discrimination against groups protected under the Equality Act.

The Government has opened the application process to appoint members of the UKCIS Executive Board (the closing date is 03 September 2018).

How to safely use ‘Questions’ on Instagram

Recently Instagram introduced ‘Questions’ – the latest feature onto the photo sharing app. Users are now able to invite their followers to ask them questions, which they can then publicly answer.  The UK Safer Internet Centre has published a blog describing things to be aware of.

What are questions on Instagram?

Questions can be added once you have taken a photo or video that you want to share on your story. This is done by selecting the poll sticker from the stickers tab  .

You can then position the questions sticker onto your story and invite your followers to ask you a question.

Your followers ask you a question by typing into the answer box in your sticker, and then sending this to you to answer.

To see the questions you have been asked, swipe up to open the viewers list for that part of your story.

Are the questions anonymous?

There has been some confusion recently about whether the question you ask on Instagram stories are anonymous.

Instagram questions are not anonymous, the person who you sent the question to will know that it is you who asked them. However, if the person you’re sending a question to decides to share your question publicly, your username will be removed.

Remember that anonymous or not there is a real person behind the Instagram account that you are asking questions to. It’s important to act respectfully and kindly on this service and any other question platform you use.

Who can see my answers?

You can choose how you answer the questions you have been asked. When you click to reply to a question you are taken to a camera screen, where you can take a picture that will be the background to your answer. Once you have typed your reply to the question, you can choose whether to answer privately or publicly.

  • Privately: you can choose to send your answer directly to the person who asked you in a private message.
  • Publicly: you can chose to post your answer onto your story so that all of your followers can see it.  It’s worth noting if you have a public account anyone who views your story will be able to see your answer.

You can also choose not to answer any questions you have been asked. You can delete any questions in the question viewer. If anyone asks you a question that is inappropriate or makes you feel uncomfortable you can always go and speak to an adult you trust, and report or block the user.

Things to remember

Whilst these questions can be used positively to find out more about your friends, there is potential for this feature to be misused. There have been reports of people using the feature to ask upsetting or insulting questions, especially if they think they are under an anonymous guise.

Remember that whoever you are asking questions of is a real person. Before you send a negative or mean comment, think about the effect that receiving this will have on a person.

Our advice

  • Think about how your question will make someone feel.
  • Remember that they will be able to see what you post.  If your question will hurt someone’s feelings it’s better not to post it.
  • Report inappropriate questions.
  • If you see a story or question that you think breaks Instagram’s terms of service you can report it to Instagram.
  • Speak to someone you trust.
  • Speak to a parent, carer or teacher if you are upset or concerned about any question you have been asked. You can also contact Childline by calling 0800 1111.

Digital Skills training from Media Trust. Interested?

Did you know…

  • more than 70% of charities believe strengthening their digital skills would help their organisation to grow its network and deliver a more effective strategy

but despite this…

  • 45% of charities don’t have a digital strategy

That’s why Media Trust are offering FREE digital skills training for charities and community groups.

The half-day masterclasses, with support from Google Digital Garage, will cover a range of topics from Social Media Strategy to Building a Digital Marketing Plan.

At these events, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their specific digital communications challenges with, and receive advice from, a range of media partners and communications experts, learn from other charities as well as receiving digital skills training from a team of Google mentors. You can find out more about the programme via the Media Trust website

Media Trust are offering free digital skills training for groups of 25 or more. Action Hampshire is looking to gather expressions of interest from staff, volunteers and trustees in local charities. If you are interested in taking part in this training, please email them at info@actionhampshire.org

Child trafficking in the UK

Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT) has published a snapshot report providing an overview of the state of modern slavery affecting children in the UK.

The report includes latest statistics and recent policy developments and makes 10 recommendations to the UK Government including: reforming the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for children to ensure that decisions about whether or not a child has been trafficked are made by trained multi-agency child protection professionals rather than by central government; improving data collection on child trafficking; and providing a comprehensive, rights-based independent legal guardianship (advocacy) service for all separated and trafficked children and young people up to a minimum of 21 years old.

Click here to download the report.

Anti-bullying strategies for young people

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published advice and guidance for schools and education authorities on how to address bullying in schools with a focus on using data to improve anti-bullying strategies. The guide covers four main areas:

  • creating an anti-bullying culture in schools;
  • finding ways for students and staff to report bullying incidents;
  • finding ways to record and review the data on bullying;
  • communicating the anti-bullying messages.

Each area contains a set of questions for education professionals to ask themselves when carrying out steps one to four, above.  The questions aim to help you review the current practices in your school, and identify areas for improvement.

Read the guide for further information.

Teacher say children face mental health epidemic

Teenage mental health charity stem4 have released findings from a survey of teachers looking at children and young people’s mental health issues in schools.

Findings from an online survey of 300 teachers working in primary and secondary schools , and further education colleges in the UK show that:

  • 78% of teachers said that at least one of their pupils has experienced a mental health issue over the past year;
  • 14% said that at least one of their pupils has experienced suicidal thoughts and behaviours over the past year;
  • 66% reported a pupil has suffered anxiety, and
  • 45% have witnessed a student with depression
  • 30% engaged with a pupil who had an eating disorder
  • 28% supported a pupil with self-harm
  • 10% reported a pupil who had an addiction.

Yet the teachers told the survey that just under half (46%) of students are unable to access the mental health services they need to make a recovery, with only one in five (19%) saying all these students were getting the treatment they needed. One in five (22%) say pupils needing specialist treatment typically had to wait more than five months for an appointment, and more than a third (36%) had feared at some point that a pupil would come to harm while waiting for treatment.

Nearly one in ten (9%) described their school’s mental health provision as ‘non-existent’, with 30% saying it was inadequate or very inadequate. Four in ten (40%) of the state school teachers surveyed say the need for mental health services has increased over the past year. Over half (52%) of all respondents believed family difficulties were contributing to their students’ problems while other common causes were exam stress and the emotional impact of bullying, both cited by 41%.

For more information read their full news release.

Growing up in a military family

The report, ‘Kin and Country: Growing up as an Armed Forces Child’ by the Children’s Commissioner for England, explores how primary and secondary school children with parents in the Armed Forces feel about moving school or country, how their lives at home and school change with deployment and whether or not they feel they receive the support they need.

The Children’s Commissioner’s Office spoke to 40 children, aged 8-15 years old, up and down the country whose parents are currently serving in the Army, Navy or RAF, as well as speaking to teachers, parents and members of the Armed Forces to build a clear picture of where there are gaps in provision for children, and why these gaps exist.

The report shows that most children in Armed Forces families are growing up living happy lives, despite the unique challenges they face. It is clear though that the lifestyle can be tough, and that multiple school moves often leave children feeling unsettled and anxious. For children with additional needs or teenagers in the middle of exam courses, moving around adds another layer of complication.

Alongside the impact of mobility, service children describe a range of complex emotional responses to the deployment of their parents, sharing the impact that parental absence has at home, with changing family dynamics and increased responsibility for siblings and household tasks. For children who had both parents deployed at the same time, these issues are exacerbated by the need to move to stay with another family member for a significant period of time.

However, despite the challenges highlighted in this report, many of the children in the study had developed very effective coping strategies. The vast majority of service children the research team spoke to during this project were happy, resilient and incredibly proud to have a parent serving in the Armed Forces.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, commenting on the report, said:

“The vast majority of service children we spoke to during this project were happy, resilient and incredibly proud to have a parent serving in the Armed Forces. Belonging to a military family was central to their identity and sense of self, and it is clear that we should celebrate the contribution and the sacrifices made by military families.

“However, more can be done to improve the services that help these children as they cope with the pressures brought about by frequent moves and parental deployment. I want to see a child-focused approach to supporting military families that takes into account the complex challenges that are inevitably part of growing up in an Armed Forces family.”

Read the report, Kin and Country: growing up as an armed forces child.

Knife crime statistics

The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper summarising the available statistics relating to knife crime in England and Wales. The paper includes Crime Survey of England and Wales data relating to children and young people which shows that for the year ending March 2016 6.2 % of 10 – 15 year olds and 4.2% of 16 – 29 year olds knew someone who carried a knife for their own protection.

Other key statistics include:

  • Recorded crime: In the year ending March 2017, there were 34,700 (selected) offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales. This is the highest number in the seven-year series (from year ending March 2011) the earliest point for which comparable data are available.

  • Homicide: In 2016/17 there were 215 homicides currently recorded using a sharp instrument, including knives and broken bottles, accounting for 30% of all homicides – a similar number as recorded in 2015/16 (213).
  • Knife crime by police force area: London recorded the highest rate of 137 offences involving a knife per 100,000 population3 in 2016/17, an increase of 23 offences from 2015/16. Surrey had the lowest rate of 4 offences per 100,000 individuals (down 2 from 2015/16).
  • Proven offences and offenders: In year ending March 2018, there were 21,044 disposals given for possession of a knife or offensive weapon. Juveniles (aged 10-17) were the offenders in 21% of cases.
  • Hospital admissions: There were 4,434 finished consultant episodes (FCE) recorded in English hospitals in 2016/17 due to assault by a sharp object. This was an increase of 7.6% compared to 2015/16 and 21.7% higher than in 2014/15.

Do distressed or troubled children need therapy?

Earlier this week I read a fascinating article, We Need to Talk About Children’s Mental Health – and the Elephants in the Room, by Elizabeth Gregory who is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist working with children and families.

In the article she argues that:

the dominant narrative in today’s society is that ‘distressed’ or ‘troubled’ children need ‘therapy’ to fix their problems. This article examines what this belief may be rooted in; and how potentially damaging it is for children; and for society as a whole. It will refer to a number of ‘elephants in the room’, by way of drawing attention to issues we really need to start talking about if we are to stem the tide and begin to address the mental health of future generations.

Gregory goes on to explain a number of ‘elephants in the room’ and in conclusion argues that instead of therapy, professionals who work with children and families need to return to some of the basics:

Helping parents to talk to their children, read to their children, play with their children, show warmth to their children, listen to their children, believe in their children, give hope to their children – all in a context of doing the same for the parents themselves who didn’t receive it in their own childhoods, is far more powerful than any therapy. This doesn’t happen quickly – again it is about being alongside families in their communities and facilitating them to do things differently by providing the most basic of resources, support, consistency and encouragement.

Go check out the full article.

 

Digital Friendships of young people aged 8‐17 years

For Safer Internet Day 2018, the UK Safer Internet Centre commissioned an online survey of 2000 young people aged 8‐17 years, which was conducted by Censuswide.

The findings reveal how central technology is to young people’s relationship and the many different platforms they are using to interact with each other. It also highlights both the positive and negative role that technology can play in young people’s relationships and that whilst they are proactively helping to build a better internet, they also want support from the adults in their lives to do so.

  • Being online is key for many young people’s relationships, and they are using a number of different platforms to communicate.
  • Technology is changing the way young people are interacting with each other as well as their ideas of what constitutes a ‘good friendship’.
  • Young people have strategies to manage their online relationships but also want adults to support them when things go wrong.

Download the Digital Friendships Report and Executive Summary